Metro bus: Islamabad section of project referred to ECNEC

Conditions including rationalisation of project cost; EIA, feasibility study also attached for approval.


Danish Hussain March 14, 2014
The launch of the Metro Bus system in Lahore. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD:


The Central Development Working Party (CDWP) on Thursday referred with conditions the Islamabad section of the metro bus project to the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) for final approval.


The conditions included rationalisation of the project cost, a certificate that the capital’s master plan will not be defied while carrying out the project, the environmental impact assessment (EIA) report, the feasibility study and a report on the economic viability of the project.

“The CDWP approved the project in principle but subject to rationalisation of project cost and scope by a committee headed by the cabinet secretary with members from the development authorities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi, the finance division and the section chiefs of transport and communication, economic appraisal and environment from the Planning Commission,” said a statement issued by the Planning Ministry.

The committee will look into the feasibility study, environment impact assessment and economic viability of the project, along with other related issues.

Both the federal and Punjab governments have successfully obtained mandatory permission from different forums without carrying out an environmental impact assessment or feasibility study of the proposed Rs23.7 billion project.

Initially, the cost of the Islamabad section of the project was worked out at Rs15 billion and the amount was also mentioned in an advertisement seeking prequalification of contractors. But it was scaled up to Rs23.7 billion after the cost of construction of an intersection on Peshawar Mor and the cost of the land was included in the project.

Starting from Faizabad and concluding at the Pak Secretariat, after passing through IJP Road, 9th Avenue and Jinnah Avenue, the total length of the Islamabad section of the metro bus project comes to 13.66 kilometres.

Earlier, The Express Tribune had reported that the design prepared by the Nespak — the consultant firm for the project — will harm the greenbelts by expanding two major avenues beyond the permissible limits in violation of the city’s master plan.

So far, the cost of the project has been estimated at Rs32 billion.

The CDWP also approved projects worth Rs1 billion related to the power, transport and communication, housing, and education sectors.

It referred 12 other projects worth Rs60 billion to ECNEC for approval, including one for awarding 3,000 scholarships to students from Afghanistan costing Rs6.2 billion was also recommended to the ECNEC for approval. If approved, Afghan students will be able to avail scholarships in medicine, dentistry and engineering at public and private universities of Pakistan.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 14th, 2014.

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